Questions surrounding the September 11 attack in Benghazi, Libya, that left U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead took center stage in the second presidential debate between President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney.
In the debate, Obama said he had identified the deaths as a terrorist incident within a day. Romney said it took the administration two weeks to label it as such.
Critics have also accused the administration of laying blame for the attack on mobs angered by an anti-Muslim movie and for failing to properly recognize the security threat in the region.
Here's a look at notable comments made by administration officials, publicly and in interviews with CNN, since the attack:
September 12 -- President Barack Obama:
"The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack. ... No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation."
September 12 -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
"We are working to determine the precise motivations and methods of those who carried out this assault. Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. America's commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is no justification for this; none."
September 12 -- White House spokesman Jay Carney, in response to questions about whether the attack was planned:
"It's too early for us to make that judgment. I think -- I know that this is being investigated, and we're working with the Libyan government to investigate the incident. So I would not want to speculate on that at this time."
September 12 -- Obama, at a campaign event in Las Vegas, again uses the "act of terror" line:
"No act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world, and no act of violence will shake the resolve of the United States of America."
He repeats the line again the next day in Golden, Colorado. "I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished."
September 13 -- Jay Carney:
"The protests we're seeing around the region are in reaction to this movie. They are not directly in reaction to any policy of the United States or the government of the United States or the people of the United States."
September 13 -- A senior U.S. official tells CNN that the Benghazi violence was a "clearly planned attack":
"It was not an innocent mob," the official said. "The video or 9/11 made a handy excuse and could be fortuitous from their perspective, but this was a clearly planned military-type attack."
September 13 -- State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland:
"Well, as we said yesterday when we were on background, we are very cautious about drawing any conclusions with regard to who the perpetrators were, what their motivations were, whether it was premeditated, whether they had any external contacts, whether there was any link, until we have a chance to investigate along with the Libyans. So I know that's going to be frustrating for you, but we really want to make sure that we do this right and we don't jump to conclusions. That said, obviously, there are plenty of people around the region citing this disgusting video as something that has been motivating."
September 14 -- Jay Carney:
"We were not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent."
September 16 -- Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, on CNN's "State of the Union" with Candy Crowley:
"There was a hateful video that was disseminated on the Internet. It had nothing to do with the United States government, and it's one that we find disgusting and reprehensible. It's been offensive to many, many people around the world. That sparked violence in various parts of the world, including violence directed against Western facilities including our embassies and consulates."
On CBS' "Face the Nation," Rice also said that, "We do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned."
September 18 -- Jay Carney: